All-Ireland winning manager Mickey Harte has been appointed Louth senior football manager on a three-year deal.
The former Tyrone manager publicly expressed his disappointment at not being given one more year to launch a bid for Sam Maguire with Tyrone next year, so this comes as quite a shock.
Having suffered relegation to Division 4 followed by defeat to Longford in the Leinster Championship, the Wee county dismissed Wayne Kierans.
The appointment is a great surprise but also a needed boost for Leinster football in the wake of Dublin’s annual demolition of the province.
Harte lead Tyrone to three All-Ireland titles and six Ulster titles during an 18 year tenure, but his reign was ended after an Ulster quarter-final defeat to Donegal.
While there are no prospects of Leinster or All Ireland silverware for Harte, the long term development of football in Louth is of paramount importance. A swift return to Division 3 will be top of the agenda and a good run in the tier two championship.
County Chairman, Peter Fitzpatrick has been planning long term for the future of Louth football off the field with a new 14,000 capacity ground costing €12million granted planning permission.
Former player Colin Kelly was appointed ‘academy squad co-ordinator’ while a new four-man management team has also been announced for the U20s.
Appointments of this nature are not uncommon. Mick O’Dwyer had stints at Laois, Wicklow and Clare, while Jack O’Connor has completed one year in charge of Kildare.
Peter McGrath who won two All-Ireland titles at the helm in Down, also tried his hand with Louth but was largely unsuccessful.
Harte’s appointment will bring a much-needed buzz to Louth. The county has been in the doldrums since the dizzy heights of a Leinster final in 2010. Relegation from Division 3 with a measly two points and a disappointing first-round exit to Longford in the Leinster championship left the Wee County needing a revamp.
The appointment should encourage more players who have left the panel in recent years to return. Former AFL player Ciarán Byrne will be a much needed acquisition in 2021 after returning from Australia this year, only to be sidelined by injury.
Harte’s future at Tyrone was subject to debate on a yearly basis after failure to beat Dublin and Kerry since 2008 in the Championship, it all seemed to go stale for the 68 year old.
Perhaps a fresh start for two parties that need it will see both benefits. An unlikely marriage could be a happy one.
Image Credit: Louth GAA